Guide to Impact Protection in the Warehouse
Warehouses are hectic settings with many potential hazards. Because of this, they are at a greater risk for collisions that will cause injury or damage. Impact protection products help reduce damage caused by collisions, improving safety and productivity. Below is a guide to impact protection in the warehouse.
The importance of impact protection
Warehouses have many employees and vehicles working alongside each other. In addition, structures like racking and shelving create obstacles on the floor. These conditions create several opportunities for collisions that can impact the integrity of specific warehouse systems, cause serious injury to employees, damage merchandise and equipment, and disrupt productivity, all of which are likely to cost the company time and money.
For example, forklifts pose inherent risks to workers, equipment, merchandise, and warehouse systems (e.g., columns and racking ) and structures (e.g., walls and floors). This is due to factors such as their large size or decreased visibility when carrying loads in the front. Because of this, it is common for forklifts to hit warehouse structures like columns.
Columns support the roof and floors in a warehouse. Repeat collisions from a forklift or other material handling equipment can damage the column and weaken the structural integrity of the building. This is also likely to cause damage or injury to material handling equipment and the operators.
Types of impact protection products
There are many impact protection products suited for various work settings. Examples of products commonly used in the warehouse and other industrial environments include:
- Column protectors
- Safety bollards
- Speed bumps
- Rack protectors
- Guard rails and bumpers
- Barrier protectors
Column protectors are installed at the base of columns and beams to safeguard the structural integrity of the warehouse. These products minimize damage to the column and material handling equipment during collisions. This decreases repair expenses and improves worker safety. Column protectors also often come in bright colors for enhanced visibility.
Installation is often quick and easy and requires little to no maintenance afterward. Column protectors also come in a wide range of sizes and prices to suit various needs and budgets.
There are several column protector variations. However, the space-saving options, like the ones manufactured by Armco, provide optimal protection while saving valuable warehouse space. These are discussed below.
Armco Spacesaver Column Protectors
These column protectors are made from 100% recyclable polyethylene molded to fit snugly to the column. They are durable, easy to install, and available in five different sizes to suit columns 100 x 100mm up to 254 x 254mm.
PolyWRAP Spacesaver Column Protectors
These column protectors are also made from durable, recycled polyethylene and are available in eight different sizes to suit columns 152 x 152mm up to 914 x 305mm.
Detailed descriptions of Armco column protectors can be found in the downloadable warehouse products catalog.
A bollard is a sturdy post barrier designed to protect a designated area. Bollards' purpose is to get drivers' attention, block vehicles from accessing restricted or pedestrian areas, and protect pedestrians and property from vehicle accidents.
An example of a safety bollard is the Flexi Delineator Range. These flexible posts are made from Polyurethane that will flex, bend, crush, and then return to shape. The posts come in 3 high-visibility colors and can be combined with plastic chains to help segregate traffic and pedestrian routes. Purchase Flexi Delineator Posts here.
A speed bump is a raised ridge or area built or installed on the road designed to reduce the speed of vehicles driving over it. They may also be called speed humps, speed breakers, speed cushions, traffic thresholds, speed tables, and sleeping policemen.
Beaverswood's speed-reducing ramps come in yellow or black variations. Available in two sizes: 50mm high, suited to domestic use, and 75mm high, suited to commercial applications.
Warehouse racking systems store large amounts of merchandise that are typically loaded and unloaded using forklifts. Unfortunately, this makes them prone to being hit or struck by machine handling equipment, which can impact the system's integrity. If left unprotected and unrepaired, this damage can eventually lead to weakened racking and may result in a collapse.
An excellent way to reduce racking damage is with pallet protection guards. Rack Armour upright rack protectors are made from ballistic-grade plastic designed to deflect and absorb impact, reducing damage by up to 80 per cent. Available in various colors and sizes, and is suitable for use in temperatures as low as -40 degrees F (-40 C).
Guard rails and bumpers
Guard rails and bumpers are physical barriers that protect or block access away from certain areas without reducing visibility. In the warehouse, guard rails or bumpers can control traffic flow, provide safe walkways for pedestrians, and reduce impact from forklifts or other vehicles and equipment. Guard rails and bumpers come in various sizes, materials, shapes, and colors. (Examples can be found here).
Barrier protectors add another layer of protection to impact resistant products. Some barrier products, such as Armco rails and posts, may present additional safety concerns. Armco's safety ends and corners protect vehicles, equipment, and pedestrians by covering the razor-sharp cut ends.
Armco safety ends and corner products include:
- Armco Safety Ends
- Armco Safety Corners
- Armco - Pedestrian Safety Ends
- Armco Fishtail Safety Ends
All variations are available in black and yellow, and the safety ends are equipped with diamond end reflectors. Full descriptions can be found in the PDF products catalog. You can purchase Armco Safety Barriers here.
Implementing impact protection in the warehouse
Impact protection is essential to a productive, efficient, and safe warehouse. However, the needs and requirements of a business can vary drastically, so it can be challenging to find solutions to fit different settings. Below are some considerations for implementing impact protection in the warehouse:
Listed above are examples of types of impact protection products. Understanding the different products, what they protect from, and how they can suit individual needs is essential. For example, speed bumps may be better suited for loading dock areas that have trucks constantly loading and unloading merchandise than within the storage facility.
Warehouse structures and systems typically fall within a standard range, and protection products are designed with that sizing in mind. And many come in several size variations. Some products, like safety bollards, can be placed in virtually any location. In contrast, products like column protectors rely on accurate sizing because they are meant to be installed to support columns and beams. Sizing can also vary drastically between cities, states, and countries. Therefore, it is essential to obtain accurate measurements before purchasing certain protection products.
Impact protection products are manufactured in various materials, each with advantages and disadvantages. Common material types include:
- Polyethylene. This durable, synthetic plastic can withstand damage caused in an industrial setting.
- Foam. Comes in various materials and colors. It is often lightweight and offers protection from more minor impacts, making it typically suited better for non-industrial settings.
- Metal. Several alloys can be used, including steel, aluminum, brass, etc. These materials are sturdy and offer great impact protection.
- Rubber. Higher-density rubber is excellent at absorbing shock, and lower-density is good at preventing bumps and scratches. A cost-effective option that is typically more vulnerable to wear and tear.
- Vinyl. There are better options to protect from damage caused by significant impacts, but they are good at protecting from surface damage.
- Mixed. Combining materials can improve protection by combining benefits from multiple materials. For example, polyethylene-covered rubber protectors would have the durability of plastic and the shock absorbance of the rubber.
Impact protection products can vary dramatically in price, depending on the size, material, intended usage, etc. However, many cost-effective options offer excellent protection without breaking the bank. For example, Rack Armour pallet protectors cost $699.00 for a pack of 18, costing under $39 per unit.
Impact protection products offer monetary value by reducing damage, minimizing repair costs and workflow disruptions, and improving worker safety. However, the value of the products must outweigh the cost of the space it uses. Fortunately, many space-saving options, like the Spacesaver Column Protectors, offer protection without sacrificing valuable floor space.
Policy and regulations
Warehouses must adhere to health and safety policies and regulations. Failure to comply can result in hefty fines and potential shutdowns. Impact protection products will also be subject to these regulations. In addition, certain rules may require the installation of protection products. For example, guardrails for construction sites cannot have rough or jagged surfaces that would cause punctures, lacerations, or snagged clothing (source).